As I was driving home from a networking event a couple of weeks ago, the low-gas light came on in my car. I was so tired from all the activities of the day that I decided to wait until the next morning to fill my car up.
The next morning, I headed over to the gas station at Walmart. As I got closer to the store, I debated with myself about whether I wanted to cut through the parking lot or wait through an extra light to get to the pumps. If I went through the parking lot, I ran the risk of needing to wait for people crossing the road and other cars jockeying for the best parking spot. If I waited for the light, I was stuck making 2 left-hand turns at lights. I really don’t like having to wait for the lights to make the turns, so I chose to cut through the parking lot.
As I neared the entrance to Walmart, there was this older guy pushing his cart down the middle of the road. My first thought was, “Figures! I knew something like this would happen.” Then I changed my mind and realized that in a few more years, that might be me struggling to maintain my dignity and do my own shopping even though it was hard for me to walk and wanting to minimize the walking I had to do even if it meant walking in the middle of the street to get to my car. That thought immediately changed how I was feeling. Instead of being frustrated and impatient, I relaxed and patiently waited for the man to get across the street.
After he moved out of the middle of the road, I continued on my way and filled my car up with gas. I had a few things I wanted to pick up at Walmart, so I drove back through the parking lot in search for my own spot.
As I was slowly making my way up and down the aisles, I thought I spotted the same older guy walking back up to the store. No, it couldn’t be, I reasoned. It must just be another old man that reminded me of the first. I found a great parking spot and walked into the store to buy a couple of things.
As I was walking out of the store I noticed an old guy sitting on one of those motorized carts with his head in his hands. I almost got all the way out the doors before I realized that it was the same guy I kept seeing! I walked up to him and asked, “Didn’t I see you walk out of the store earlier?” He told me yes and that he was having a hard time finding his car. I asked him what kind of car he was driving and he told me a dark blue Kia. So I started out of the store on a mission to find his car for him.
I got just outside and I realized that I would never spot his car and that I should ask him if he was comfortable with me driving him around the parking lot looking for his car. He about jumped out of the motorized cart he was so happy to have me help him like that. We gathered up his bags and started out to my car.
I could tell he was really pushing himself to walk quickly, but I kept a slow pace and just chatted with him about where I had parked and hoping to give him the idea that I had plenty of time and I was parked close enough that he wouldn’t have to walk too far.
And then, just as we reached the parking aisle, he looked over to the right and said, “Is that my car?” Sure enough, he found his car right away – before we had even reached mine.
As I was helping him get his bags into his car, he admitted that he wasn’t supposed to be out walking without his walker and that he was so thankful to be back to his car.
Now it was a little thing for me to notice that an old man was walking down the middle of the street in a parking lot. It was another little thing for me to notice an old man walking back into Walmart. And it was yet another little thing for me to notice a tired old man sitting in a motorized shopping cart. But it was a big thing to that man.
Little things are like that. Individually, they’re itty-bitty things, but added together, they can make a world of difference. I’m not just talking about how little things can add up for helping someone else, but even for us. In fact, this idea of itty-bitty things added together is a major philosophy behind the work I do. For anyone going through divorce, making little changes in perception and then taking action can create a world of difference.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
What little things have you chosen not to notice that might make a big difference in your life? Just like my noticing the old man walking back and forth through the Walmart parking lot, what might you need to notice about you or your kids as you’re transitioning from married to single?
Now that you’ve noticed something you might have overlooked before what do you need to do to make a difference? The thing you choose to do might be something small, but sometimes something small is all it takes to make a world of difference.
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